"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Unthinkable.

This past summer, I took a trip to perform research for a book I have been working on for the past two years. As a high school English teacher, I consider honing the crafts I want my students to own to be one of my foremost responsibilities. Thing is, as a teacher, I have never had time to do that. My days would be about encouraging, shaping, teaching and leading young people, and my nights would be about recovering from work, reshaping my personal focus, spending time with my boyfriend and friends and working on my fitness. I didn't have time to write. Even if I did have time, I was too mentally exhausted to write.

So I quit my job. After visiting Poland, Italy and France, and experiencing one of the best, most fun, most life-changing trips of my lifetime, I decided I needed to commit to the task of writing this novel. World War II and the Holocaust have always been of interest for me to study, I can speak other languages easily and love meeting people from around the world, and I needed a change. The past year at work, I was desperately unhappy. Frequent change with our administrators, death of friends and students, my boyfriend moving away... All of these things added up to one giant pile of unhappy. My wine supply dissipated faster than I'd like to admit. I gave up on exercise. My cat became my best buddy. Yep, time for a change...

The thing with quitting something like teaching, and in a school where I worked, with the students I worked with, is there is a great risk of feeling useless. Every day, I went to work knowing that regardless of what I was teaching, I was there to support WHO I was teaching; my students inspired me and I can only hope I slightly inspired them. But one has to follow her dreams. Before I set out to teach, I was a writer. I was a poet, specifically, but I dabbled in fiction and had professors scowl when I told them I was getting my teacher's certification. At the time, nearly 20 years ago, I thought writing for a career was "selfish", and I needed to something to "give back". Well, I have been working with children since I was 10. I am 38 now, so that is nearly 3/4 of my life devoted to "selfless giving-back". Now, I am taking a great risk and working on something I truly believe in. I'm prepared to be up all night. I'm prepared to go for 10-mile runs to avoid my laptop. I'm prepared to move into a cabin with my boyfriend. But I'm not prepared to lose all the relationships I have made with those students and faculty, who kept ME going for the last 10 years in Missoula.

And so, I will carry on and I hope you will carry on, too, kiddos. Keep that torch burning. The one in your awesome brains.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Benvenito a Lucca, the sweetest little Italian town, where people ride bikes and enjoy pizza in the piazza. Chianti country. Bikes everywhere. Serious rain showers. And the best grocery I have ever visited. My host looks like an Italian movie star, my apartment is nice and perfetto, and the trains are within walking distance. Today, I am going to Pisa, to visit the terme, or hot springs, as they are good for my body! I had delicious pizza in the piazza citadella last night, while watching Italia play Uruguay in the World Cup. Bene!

Monday, June 23, 2014

La cucina

Ok. Venice is wicked expensive. But, going to the local grocery and public market at Rialto was worth it, and relatively affordable. I did get yelled at by some mask wearing people who require payment for photo taking... I did not have 2 euros, only 60 cents... Got yelled at.

Tonight, I am making fried zucchini with us dried tomatoes. For antipasti I had salami and olives, with a little provolone. Delicious. And excellent local cab sauv.  Plus local chocolate... I only eat lunch to seems. Or one meal a day. It is quite nice! And you can walk around with your wine at night. Rad.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Everyone is tall and beautiful in Holland.

After sitting at the Minne Bar in Minneapolis, some angel gave me his first class seat to Amsterdam! I was treated like a princess! Wine, cheese, good food, blankets, awesome bed-chair... All in all, a lovely experience. Unfortunately,my phone won't work, but I have wifi.  

I randomly met someone from Dillon, MT, in a cafe in this airport here. He is attending his brothers wedding in Hamburg. His wife is also a writer! And he teaches college math. So cool.

And finally, everyone from here--holland-- is tall and beautiful. Never been around so many tall people!  One more hour here and then I fly to Warsaw, where I will quick shower and then walk around for a bit before collapsing!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

C'est gratuit!

In America, it's rude to not tip your server, hotel maid, taxi driver... It goes on and on. In Europe? "C'est gratuit"... Meaning, it's weird to get more than a euro for a tip, it's included in the price, etc.

I have rented a bike, which will be delivered to my house in France. And the man says "no problem"! About possibly changing my pedals, etc. I love Europeans. I just wish I could bring friends.